Bus operators in DOTr’s free ride program belie claims of limited ops; assure weekly pay for drivers

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 13, 2021   •   371

MANILA, Philippines — The consortium of bus operators plying the EDSA Busway system has released a statement belying claims that bus companies participating in the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) free ride program have limited their operations due to non-payment by the government.

The Mega Manila Consortium Corporation (MMCC) assured that their drivers are being paid weekly by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB).

The MMCC also gave clarification to the issue of long lines of passengers waiting for the buses.

The consortium said that according to their member operators, “the long lines of passengers are brought about by the limited passenger capacity on deployed buses as mandated by health protocols to stem the spread of COVID-19 and because many MRT-3 passengers would rather wait in line to avail of our free bus rides.”

On its Facebook post, the DOTr noted the MMCC’s support for its initiative.

“The MMCC likewise reiterated their unequivocal support and commitment to the initiative of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the LTFRB in providing for the transport needs of the commuter amid the prevailing quarantine measures and protocols that are in place, specifically in the affected area of NCR plus,” the DOTs said.

“We are fully supportive of this endeavor of the DOTr as this will be for the benefit and convenience of the public at this time of the pandemic,” the MMCC statement read.

“We understand how integral our role is in making sure that people who need to travel for work or for serving as frontliners have access to public transport and will continue to work with both the government as well as other stakeholders of NCR to ensure the riding public’s interest is given the highest priority,” the MMCC added.

Meanwhile, bus conductors who collect fees during free bus ride operations will be facing sanctions and will be removed from participating in the free bus ride program. AAC

DPWH to conduct road reblocking along EDSA from Aug. 20-23

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will conduct reblocking and repairs on some parts of EDSA beginning Friday.

The following roads will be closed starting 11pm of August 20 until August 23:

  • EDSA-Caloocan (southbound) after B. Serrano Street (3rd lane from sidewalk)
  • EDSA-Makati (Northbound) before Ayala tunnel (5th lane)

The affected roads will be fully passable by 5:00 a.m. on Monday, August 23. Motorists are advised to take alternate routes.

 

LTFRB calls COA report misleading; clarifies 1% utilization rate of service contracting program budget

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Wednesday sought to clarify the findings in the 2020 Commission on Audit (COA) report which stipulated that the Service Contracting Program of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and LTFRB utilized only one percent of the allocated budget for the program.

The LTFRB explained that the actual funds were downloaded to the agency only in November 2020 and were distributed to the drivers in December.

The agency stressed that upon receiving the downloaded funds, it immediately implemented the Service Contracting Program “to incentivize Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators who were given permission to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The funds were distributed to the drivers through bank transfers or e-money/wallets of GCASH or PAYMAYA via InstaPay or PESONet.

“Therefore, it is misleading to angle certain reports and columns that only one percent was used from the P5.56-B funds for the Service Contracting Program, where in fact, the one percent utilization rate only covers the implementation month of December 2020, which is also the coverage/extent of the COA report that was released,” it said.

The LTFRB further reported that, as of June 30, 2021, P1.5 billion was released to beneficiary drivers nationwide and for the procurement of Systems Manager, a computer program responsible for the development and management of all project systems.

The LTFRB also said that initial payouts of P4,000 were provided to 23,410 drivers; one-time onboarding incentives of P25,000 were provided to 8,461 drivers; one-time onboarding incentives of P20,000 were provided to 702 drivers; and; 18,864 drivers received their weekly payouts.

Regional Disbursement Breakdown:

NCR: P 899,283,017
Region I : P 30,880,623
Region II: P 22,700,504
Region III: P 66,521,375
Region IV : P 100, 976, 294
Region V: P 961, 133
Region VI: P 57,889,214
Region VII: P 14, 594,682
Region VIII: P 2,122,413
Region IX: P 21,065,854
Region X: P 28,938,937
Region XI: P 17,494,636
Region XII: P 81, 798,612
CARAGA: P 72,533,642
CAR: P 26,635,722

Driver Participants:

Registered Drivers- 70,303
Uploaded Drivers- 50,547
Oriented Drivers- 59, 153
Executed Contracts- 50,068

The statement said that to date, the LTFRB is in close coordination with the Department of Budget and Management for the release of funds amounting to P3.3 Billion on the remaining account payables.

The LTFRB said it is committed to helping the DOTr achieve its goal in improving the public transport system towards the development of long-term solutions in the service of our drivers, operators, and the public in general, especially during this time of the pandemic.

LTFRB defends slow pace of fund release for service contracting program

Maris Federez   •   August 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) chairman Atty. Martin Delgra defended the agency’s seemingly slow-paced implementation of the Service Contracting Program, which resulted in the delay of the release of benefits intended for public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers and operators.

“Alam din po natin na kahit na sinagad po natin ‘yung programa hanggang June 30, yung pagmomonitor, pagkokolekta ng mga date, pagpeprare ng mga payroll, at saka mga financial documents, hindi po natin maaabot doon sa last day,” Delgra said.

Based on the 2020 Annual Audit Report of the Commission on Audit (COA), the LTFRB has released only about P59.7 million or just one percent of the P5.5 billion budget for the said program.

Read: COA calls out LTFRB for using only 1% of P5.5-B budget for drivers’ assistance

The COA recommended to the LTFRB to review its guidelines and make the process simple for the fast distribution of funds.

The Service Contracting Program was launched under the Bayanihan to Recover as One or the Bayanihan 2 which aimed at providing additional income and incentives to drivers whose livelihood was affected by the pandemic.

The said program also launched the government’s Libreng Sakay which was suspended when the implementation of the Bayanihan 2 ended on June 20, 2021.

LTFRB Financial and Management Division, meanwhile, said that aside from the delayed launching of the program, the late downloading of the budget in November 2020 and the alleged incomplete requirement submitted by some drivers contributed to the slow processing of the release of the initial subsidy.

Delgra said around P1.25 billion or over 26 percent of the total funds was released by the agency upon the extension of the Bayanihan 2 until June 30.

The LTFRB chief also said that they have submitted their request to the Department of Budget and Management to release to them the amount of P3.4 billion to be distributed to the rest of the beneficiaries.

The LTFRB is also awaiting the P3 billion from the 2021 national budget for them to resume the service contracting program this year.

“Ayon na rin po sa guidance ng DBM, yung unspent amount po na as of June 30 on the service contracting program maibalik pero mayroon pong ibabalik ayon dun sa nirequest namin na amount na kailangan naming bayaran dun sa tinatawag nating pending payout po,” Delgra said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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